Black History Month: Krik? Krak!- Edwidge Danticat

“These were our bedtime stories. Tales that haunted our parents and made them laugh at the same time. We never understood them until we were fully grown and they became our sole inheritance.”– Edwidge Danticat, “Krik? Krak!”

This selection of short stories was absolutely amazing. Heartbreaking, but brilliant. We see Haiti through different eyes, each pair experiencing a lot of pain and loss. Even with the knowledge that I have of Haiti’s horrific history, what Danticat wrote (using vignettes told from the point of view of various characters) still managed to shock me. In that way, I feel Danticat illuminates Haiti’s painful history the way Toni Morrison highlights slavery in “Beloved.”

The stories were separate yet created a larger picture spread over decades. There’s a lot of heartbreak in these tales. The one that touched me the most was “Children of the Sea”, which featured a story about Haitian refugees trying to make it to Miami in boats. It’s obvious that this is a difficult and risky feat but have we considered the psychological issues and the everyday constraints that the migrants have to deal with? I hadn’t, Danticat obviously had. That’s one of the many things l like about fiction; being given the opportunity to think about something that would probably have never crossed my mind otherwise.That scene really created a lot more empathy in me:

“Sometimes, I forget where I am. If I keep daydreaming like I have been doing, I will walk off the boat to go for a stroll.”

The whole book was very much alive for me due to Danticat’s superior writing. Her narrative just flows and manages to incorporate so much; history, relationships, superstition, culture, and so on with such honesty and clarity.

This is a complex book that made me think of how it is that one  can love their homeland so much, yet at the same time realize there is so much ugliness present, embarrassing stuff at that.Judging from Danticat’s writing, that doesn’t mean one loves their country any less.

Definitely a rewarding read. Hopefully more books like this are read so people can have more empathy for migrants.

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